Dkrainwater’s Weblog

The History of the US Marine Battle Standard and Colors

Posted on: October 16, 2008

In studying history, in particular the United States Marine Corps, one wonders where the battle colors of the USMC comes from. The official battle colors of the Marines are held in the Marine barracks in Washington, DC. Colors are the flags and streamers that accompany a Marine unit into battle. There is a duplicate copy of the Battle Colors of the Marines in the offices of the Commandant of the Marine Corps which is located in the Pentagon.

The USMC Battle colors carry 50 streamers which are authorized by the Commadant as a fighting unit. The Battle Colors carry streamers to represent foreign unit awards and United States unit awards as well as periods of service in which the Marine Corps participated. These colors represent expeditions, campaigns, and wars from the Revolutionary war until today.

For over 150 years the Marines in the field carried the Marine Corps flags into battle. The official Marine Corps Order Number Four issued in 1925 designated the colors of scarlet and gold as the official colors of the Marines. These colors were not incorporated into the Marine flag until the year 1939 after a new flag and colors were approved. The process in researching the design of the flag and the colors of the flag was a tedious process which took many years. The people researching the colors and streamers on the flag wanted to make sure that the units that carry the flag were worthy of both the streamers and the colors. Within the flags are the motto, semper fidelis, meaning always faithful.

Don Rainwater is a former Marine 80-84 who served with 3/8 2nd Mar Div. He has written many articles about the Corps and dogs, his second love. If you are interested in the Marines or would like to see Marine Corps products such as USMC jewelry, clothing, movies, or books, please visit

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